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Starless APF spoil Biratnagar party

A starless Nepal APF Club cancelled out talks of being depleted by absence of national team stars defeating Region No 1 (Biratnagar) by 35 runs to reach the final of the Pepsi Standard Chartered One Day National Cricket Tournament at the Puclhowk Engineering College grounds on Sunday.

Placed at odds after not having regular skipper Paras Khadka along with other national team members in Sharad Vesawkar, Subash Khakurel, Shakti Gauchan, Pradeep Airee, Gyanendra Malla and Amrit Bhattarai, APF were close to an early exit before narrowly edging Region No 8 (Pokhara) and Tribhuvan Army Club by net run rate to reach the last four.

Up against the defending champions in the semi-final was a team that was making a fairy run in the tournament winning all five matches to boast the status as Group ‘B’ champions but it was a turn of fortune for them.

Riding on a superb 120-run opening wicket stand between Sanjay Shrestha and Paresh Lohani, APF reached a challenging 258-9 in 50 overs before left arm spinner Bhuwan Karki’s sensational bowling up front took the heart out of Biratnagar bundled out for 223 in 46.4 overs.

APF’s batting needed an ointment after their league stage wound where they won just two out of four matches and their openers did it today. Sanjay and Paresh handled Biratnagar bowling sensibly for a century stand. Sanjay’s fluent innings of 68 balls included 11 fours and a six in his 70 runs, while Paresh made 43 off 56 with six fours.

 

Biratnagar did breathe a sigh of relief when they removed the two set batsmen along with Dipendra Chaudhary (two) in a space of three runs. Bhuwan then took APF close to 200-run mark with a 68-run stand for the fourth wicket with Subash Pradhan (28).

 

Bhuwan made 36 off 39 with five boundaries. Sanjam Regmi (19) and Ritesh Singh (13 not out) pushed the total for APF. Raj Kumar Pradhan took 4-41 from 10 overs for Biratnagar, while Siddhant Lohani and Puspa Thapa took two each.

 

Bhuwan brought APF’s defense right on track removing No 2 to No 4 Biratnagar batsmen and dangerous Mehboob Alam (one) was one of his victims. Opener Sunny Pun was run out for 24 off 27 with four fours and a six as Biratnagar were 49-4.

 

Siddhant Lohani and Ankit Subedi (18) put a brief halt but Sanjam removed both batsmen reducing Biratnagar to 115-6. Siddhant made 27 off 49 with four boundaries.

 

Amit Shrestha hinted Biratnagar were still in the match with 47 run partnership for the seventh wicket with Raj Kumar (19) and 30 with Rohit Singh (12) but after Dipendra Chaudhary got rid of him, APF were virtually in the semi-finals.

 

Amit made 70 off 82 with 11 hits to the fence and one maximu. Sanjam (3-30) and Dipendra (2-53) shared five wickets between them. APF will meet Region No 2 (Birgunj) in the championship match on Monday.

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